From the March 2012 issue

Hear the latest in the alien sciences

Watch various scientists discuss their work and its applications to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
By | Published: March 26, 2012 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Seth Shostak is the senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Seth Shostak
In his May story, “What happens when we detect alien life,” Seth Shostak speculated on the likely consequences, both immediate and distant, of a positive result in the ongoing search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). It’s a topic that has long fascinated mankind, and Shostak, as well as colleagues of his at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, have often spoken on the subject. With such evocative subject matter, who wouldn’t?
New SETI strategies

In this 53-minute presentation from late 2010, Shostak himself focuses not on the implications of a positive result, but on the ongoing search itself. In particular, he discusses some new research strategies for SETI scientists.

Search for exoplanets

MIT professor Sara Seager talks about the potential source of any found SETI transmissions in this 70-minute video featuring astrobiology and space engineering research.

How we found Tatooine

Even fictional planets get a chance to shine, as in this hourlong video centering on a real-life clone of a Star Wars home world. SETI research scientist Laurance Doyle explains his experience leading the Kepler mission team that discovered the circumbinary “Tatooine-like” exoplanet planet Kepler-16b.

E.T. Math

Alien biology might not be the only science extraterrestrials do differently, as University of San Francisco professor John Stillwell explains in this 66-minute video. Basic mathematical laws have taken wildly different forms just in our own human history, so it’s not hard to imagine just how different E.T. math could be.

SETI Gurls

And finally, to prove that hunting for aliens isn’t always serious business, the SETI Institute Research Experience for Undergraduates Class of 2010 recorded a 4-minute parody of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.” Somehow, it’s even catchier than the original.
All of these videos, and many more, are available on the SETI Institute’s YouTube channel at For more information on the search, see